When I first moved to Boulder I serendipitously found a home on Baseline and 10th – at the very entrance of Chautauqua. I remember hearing live music from my backyard from their Summer concert series, walking across the street for many hikes and picnicking in the front lawn. What I don’t remember as well was eating at Chautauqua’s Dining Hall. I went once for brunch and it was very camp-like, with long lines, buffet food and a dated interior. It wasn’t memorable.
Late last year, it was announced the Chautauqua Dining Hall would have new operators in Lenny and Sara Martinelli, owners of Three Leaf Concepts and well-known and respected restauranteurs in the area. This Spring as they’ve reopened with a new look, chef, bar and menu and they’re setting out to make the experience memorable and welcoming.
The process of finding new operators is no small feat. Lenny and Sara were selected after almost a year process by the association itself as the restaurant is deeply historical as it was built in 1898 and is now 114 years-old. They are also joined by Tom Warnke, who handles the day-to-day operations and he serves as the managing partner.
As I walked into the space, it had clearly been transformed.
They ripped up the carpet and underneath were old oak floors they brightened up the space from it’s once-dingy carpet. They moved the bar and the bar top is a reclaimed vintage boxcar floor (think of all the places that has been across the country!) and underneath the stools at the bar, they have foot rails from railroad tracks dating from the early 1900’s.
They put in two stone fireplaces made from local field stone that makes you feel you’re really in a lodge and local artists work, hand picked by Sara Martinelli, line the walls. In the corner below where one fireplace sits, you can lounge on comfortable couches to enjoy a drink, snack or your meal.
The only thing I didn’t love about the interior was that there were a few televisions throughout the restaurant – making it a little less charming. After thinking about it though, they have to accommodate a lot of out of town guests with the cabin and in that way, it’s almost like a hotel and most hotels have a television somewhere. They weren’t too intrusive, but I understand the balance they’re trying to hold.
The entire menu was revamped with a focus on Colorado, farm fresh and serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Much of the produce will begin to come from their farm, Three Leaf Far, in Lafayette, as well.
New Executive Chef, Brian Horton, who worked at Frasca and The Pinyon prior, has ensured the menu pays homage to Colorado cuisine and fresh ingredients.
Chef Brian Horton and Operator Lenny Martinelli (Right) Share Their Plans for the New Dining Hall
As an iconic location, it’s welcoming enough for tourists, those coming down from a hike, and locals alike. Sara Martinelli who guided the design and unique antiques and pieces that dot the restaurant’s interior said her inspiration was, après hike. I love the concept.
One of my favorite things about the dining hall, that was unchanged, is their wrap-around porch that provides beautiful views. I’m excited for their happy hour menu and trying breakfast, lunch and dinner coming forward. It’s the perfect place to bring guests and it’s also welcoming for those after their outdoor activities through the trails nearby on the Flatirons.
I’m hopeful and believe it’s renewed menu and interior aesthetics, really make it a new and welcome addition to Boulder’s culinary landscape.
You can learn more about Chautauqua’s Dining Hall here.
Open year round serving breakfast, lunch, happy hour and dinner Monday – Friday from 8 AM – Close. Saturday and Sunday brunch starts at 8 AM – 3 PM, happy hour is 3-6 PM and dinner is 5 PM – Close.